Thursday, October 09, 2008

Social Media

Are the social media sites only for people with too much time on their hands? No, I don't think so, though they can certainly serve as a major time-sink. Why do people blog? Why have a profile on Facebook? Why on Twitter? Why on other sites (that I know less about)?

I've been blogging for upwards of almost four years on Blogger and had a blog on a private site for most of a year before that (got killed by spam). I've talked about all kinds of random things--farm, family, pets, camping, books, and my own writing. Being as not a lot of you comment, I'm not sure why you keep coming back, which of these areas interests you in my life.

I joined Facebook last fall (November?) on the advice of my kids. At first it was merely a way to share photos and *communicate lite* with them, especially when Joel and Jen headed to South America for several months. Then I discovered a lot of my writer friends there (some published, some not), and more recently, my high school class has been reconvening on FB. Great fun.

When I first heard of Twitter, I couldn't figure out why anyone would use it. But Holly Lisle is doing a huge giveaway over two weeks to folks who follow her on Twitter, so of course I had to sign up to see what all the twitter was about!

A couple weeks ago I read this blog post by Michael Hyatt, president and CEO of Thomas Nelson, a major Christian publishing house.

He talks about how quickly word travels in this digital age and believes that everyone who has a *brand to defend* needs to make sure they know what is being said online about their brand. He gives a list of seven ways to keep track, and here's his first one:
Build an online presence. The time to build an audience is before you need it. You need people for whom you add value, a small army of followers, if you will, who can help you when you need it. This is why every CEO, brand manager, and department leader should create a blog, a Facebook page, and get active on Twitter.

It’s really not that difficult, even for the technically challenged. If you really don’t have a clue, enlist the help of a co-worker—or perhaps even your children!

If I had to select one place to start, I would pick Twitter. Then I would create a Facebook page. Finally, I would start a blog. I don’t think there’s a less expensive way to create brand equity than by using these three tools.

I'm guessing that a lot of my reader here are not CEOs (grin), but it seems his advice might still be valid. Build an audience before you need it. Why should I not find my old friends and make new contacts now, before I have something to sell them? Wouldn't you rather hear from someone you lost contact with now, while they are on their journey to publishing? We once had an old friend look us up that we hadn't seen in probably 12 years and within half an hour he was trying to involve us in his marketing scheme. It seemed that was the only reason we'd been rediscovered. When we didn't jump in, the contact drifted away.

Seriously, I care about people. I genuinely like my friends. I try to be true to myself online, and try to be very aware of everything I say. The world wide web holds information over our heads forever, and I don't want something I said to come back and bite me. Yes, I hope that one day my novels will sell, and I truly hope no one ever thinks I've befriended them just to make a sale. It's the people I care about...and sales will be nice, someday. If people want to buy my stuff.

On the advice of Randy Ingermanson, I plan to move my blog over to my website sometime within the next few months, as my daughter has time to finish redesigning the entire thing. I do have the website somewhat updated this week, though.

If you're a writer and you're not currently following Holly Lisle on her blog, in her classes, or on Twitter, I highly recommend that you do so. She's a multi-published author with a lot of material available on how to write. She's opened her writing class How to Think Sideways to new members this week. Go have a look! And if you follow her on Twitter, you might WIN a scholarship to this class. FOR SURE you will qualify for one of her e-clinics on Monday. Don't delay! Follow her on Twitter today! And you can follow me by clicking the link in my sidebar. Or look me up on FB.


Erin M. Hartshorn said...

One of the problems I have with social media (you wouldn't realize this by how active I've been on Twitter this week, I realize) is that I have two brands. I have my professional freelance self, and I have my fiction writing. From what I've seen on-line, a casual presence for a writer is a lot more forgivable than one for a business.

I have to assume that anything I put up on the Web can be found by my clients. Scary thought, that.

I've been hoping to develop a strategy toward social media, where I use some specifically for professional contact (such as LinkedIn, which I have yet to join) and some for my more casual writerly self (which may include Facebook or MySpace). I just haven't had the time yet.

So, anyway, that's why I'm being slow in the social media game.

Valerie Comer said...

Split personality, eh? Good point, though.

Erin M. Hartshorn said...

Hey, I was leaving my muse out of this!

Wendy said...

I was thinking something similar, Random, except in my case, it's a pseudonym. I'm better known online by EJ than my real name, which only a handful of people know. How does one handle Facebook in that case? I almost feel like I'd have to come out of the closet!

PS The word verification is znjor, which is the sound my hubby makes when he's sleeping!

Valerie Comer said...

EJ, you could have two Facebook pages and let them befriend each other. Keep your writing name separate? I know a couple of people who have done that, and it makes sense to me. You may not want *professional colleagues* having access to your family vacation photos, for example. I've had everything online under my own name for so long that it's too late for me to change it even if I wanted to.